July 16, 2013

Learning to read

Y'all. Today, my child said the words, "I don't want to learn to read."

Like, out loud. With venom. Enthusiasm. Conviction.

And my heart broke a little.

Now, ok. I'm realistic, and I know it was spoken in frustration because learning to read is hard. (Seriously....I never knew how many utterly ludicrous rules exist in the English language until I began teaching her to read. I also never realized how many ways exist to break those ludicrous rules!) I know she won't make it through kindergarten without learning to read. I also know she LOVES it when I read to her. She'll sit still for hours a day if I'm reading a Junie B. Jones or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We read Charlotte's Web together in less than a week, and she adored it. She asks pertinent questions, so I know she's comprehending what I read. She's not going to be illiterate.

know that.

But I also know...hearing those words broke my heart a little.

It's just...books have always been such a huge part of my life. I have exactly one memory of LBR (Life Before Reading...also, weirdly, my initials, but whatever)...and that was of struggling to understand the Sunday Comics in our local paper, not knowing what all those crazy words actually said. 

After that? Yeah, I only remember knowing how to read. I remember the early days of reading The Berenstein Bears. I remember the first time I read a chapter book, and how cool I thought I was. 

I remember the early books I loved. The Cam Jansen mystery series, about a girl with a photographic memory - I introduced Zoe to those a few weeks back, and now she walks around saying "click" when she wants to remember something. Just like Cam. There were the Sweet Valley Twins books, the Babysitters Clubs, and the classics like The Island of the Blue Dolphins. Then I moved on to Anne of Green Gables, A Wrinkle In Time, The Phantom Tollbooth, anything and everything by Christopher Pike, and too many others to name.

And that was before I discovered Stephen King and Toni Morrison and Zora Neal Hurston and oh dear God don't get me started about boooooooooks! 

So many books, so many worlds. So much love.

My best friend and her husband visited me recently. They still live near my hometown, and her husband plays ball with a guy I used to know when I was a kid at the swim club. When they realized they both knew me, the old friend said only, "Leah? Leah Soltis? Man, that girl always had a book in her hands."

I was surprised by that. Me? Really? My brother, sure...but surely not me.

I looked at my best friend. "I thought I was more sociable than that."

She laughed. "You always had a book in your hands."

Huh. Go figure.

It's not that I'm worried Zoe will never read. I'm sure she will. 

But when she says something like "I don't want to learn to read," I have this fear (irrational though it may be) that books won't...be a part of her, like they are me. Like they are my husband. I'm afraid she won't ever be that kid who always has a book in her hands. That she won't get lost in those worlds for days at a time. That she won't cry so hard when her favorite book ends that she has to turn back to page one and start reading all over again.

I know she'll read. I hope one day she'll love it. I think she will, based on the way she always begs for just one more chapter, Mom. Please!

But still. Hearing those words opened up a whole new world of possibilities...of a world without books...and I wouldn't wish that world on anyone. Least of all my own child.


Jocelyn Rish said...

Not that I have any knowledge on this subject at all, but my guess is that since she loves to listen to stories so much, she'll also love to read... you know, once she gets over the hurdle of actually learning how. :-)

I'm like you in that I can't even remember a time when I wasn't reading. So I really struggled when I was working with my Book Buddy trying to help her. To me it's always been so natural, as easy as breathing, so how do I explain HOW I do it and help her learn? I never did figure it out - all I could do was try to impart some of my enthusiasm about reading to her.

Leah said...

:) Thanks Jocelyn! I think you're right. I hope you're right. :)

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